- Golfer Benefits
NORTON, Massachusetts – Twenty years ago, Bill McMahon sought out The Links at Mass Golf to host an annual golf clinic for students from both The Perkins School For The Blind in Watertown as well as individuals from The Carroll Center For The Blind in Newton.
Two decades later, these clinics and its mission are as strong as ever. On Tuesday, the Links hosted dozens of children and faculty from The Perkins School for a morning clinic. When it comes to blind golf it’s a team effort, as sighted coaches/instructors help with swing alignment and positioning. They say “ready” after stepping away before the student makes their swing. The ongoing philosophy, which has been printed on magnets or other memorabilia, is that “you don’t have to see it to tee it”, and these students are living proof.
“The Links at Mass Golf and [PGA professional Drew Chapman] are most hospitable for inviting us down here year after year,” said Lynne Lazaro, a sighted representative on the board of the United States Blind Golf Association (USBGA). Her father, Joe Lazaro, was a multi-time national blind golf champion and 2016 inductee into the Massachusetts Golf Hall of Fame.
Joe Lazaro used to teach these clinics at the schools directly. One of the players he taught was McMahon, who took over for Lazaro when he got too old to do it himself. Twenty years ago, he reached out to The Links seeking a welcoming, green grass location, and it’s been a mainstay ever since.
“It was successful the first year, and they kept coming back year after year,” Lynne Lazaro said.
PGA Professional Bob Beach were among the sighted coaches helping the students with the fundamentals of the game and breaking down the golf swing. Though he’s experienced in coaching players of varying skill levels, Beach is exceptional at helping newcomers learn the game, exuding a positive attitude.
“It’s a very well-coordinated event, and the kids get a lot out of it.” Chapman said. “They get the experience of what it’s actually to swing a golf club and to feel a swing for putting, short game, and full swing. It’s something that we look forward to doing every year.”
Fred Corcoran, the Executive Director of Golf For All, was also on hand. His organization focuses on, “transforming the lives of all people with disabilities or who are experiencing hardships by providing free accessibility to the game of golf.”
The sighted coaches and the students themselves, affirmed that this clinic has made them more interested in getting better at golf. Their persistence is unrivaled, as one participant struggled to find the right tempo on the practice green, but when he finally got a putt to fall, he was beyond excited to tell his peers and faculty members.
While the students may not be able to gaze up at the trajectory of their ball, or watch as it rolls into the cup, the satisfaction of a well-struck shot is a feeling shared by both player and coach.
“It’s not the golfers that have to adapt, it’s the coaches that adapt to the golfers, and I think that’s wonderful,” Lazaro said. “There’s so much more energy in these clinics because they celebrate when they hit the ball.”
Lazaro said there’s never been a better time to promote adaptive golf given the success and reception of the first U.S. Adaptive Open held at Pinehurst last year. The championship will return July 10-12 at Pinehurst.
“It’s really highlighted adapative golf,” Lazaro said of the U.S. Adaptive Open. “You don’t have to see. Golf doesn’t require two legs or two arms, you can adjust. It’s made it a more inclusive game.”
The Links at Mass Golf will host The Carroll Center on Tuesday, August 1, presenting yet another opportunity to spread the joy of golf to more and more people.
The Links at Mass Golf is a public golf course, which serves as the official headquarters of First Tee Massachusetts. The facility is 100% supported and managed by Mass Golf, a 501(c)3 organization. Mass Golf is proud to support The Links of Mass Golf and provide exceptional and unique golf opportunities to local communities and youth groups across the state.
Mass Golf is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that is dedicated to advancing golf in Massachusetts by building an engaged and inclusive community around the sport.
With a community made up of over 110,000 golf enthusiasts and over 360 member clubs, Mass Golf is one of the largest state golf associations in the country. Members enjoy the benefits of handicapping, engaging golf content, course rating and scoring services along with the opportunity to compete in an array of events for golfers of all ages and abilities.